Marketing Classic Winning Baits

1975 Rebel Super-R ad advertising Martin’s 1974 Classic win.

1975 Rebel Super-R advertisement.

Anytime a pro wins a major tour event, especially a high profile one like the Bassmaster Classic, it is just a matter of weeks, or sometimes even days, before the winning company tries to capitalize on the victory. Partly this is due to the immediacy of the Internet and social networking, and the “on demand” society we seem to have become. But it didn’t used to be that way, and someone had to be the first to tie the two concepts (tournament winning and advertising/bait sales) together. The Rebel ad in today’s post is likely one of the earliest examples of this melding of marketing and bait promotion. [Read more…]

Categorizing Crankbait Depths

Bagley crankbaits, photo credit R. Yoder Graphics

Bagley crankbaits, photo credit R. Yoder Graphics

The bassin’ world has seen its share of crankbait crazes, usually tied to an approximate depth range that a “hot” bait will run. For example, we seem to have recently come out of a shallow phase with the popularity of squarebills, and are now re-entering a deepwater phase with baits like the 6XD and 10XD, especially with “ledge events” being held during the summer. From a historical perspective, everybody surely remembers the ‘kneel and reel’ period made famous by Paul Elias, as well as the David Fritts deep crankbait era. Somewhere in there was the popularity of shallow runners such as the Mann’s 1-, or the Rat-L-Trap. Some lasted longer than others, but in each case, a series of events would make one style of bait the most popular way of cranking at the time. [Read more…]

Applied Science: Bagley Clones Little Gamefish

Early Bagley 'Small Fry' ad. In'Fisherman, April-May, 1979.

Early Bagley ‘Small Fry’ ad. In’Fisherman, April-May, 1979.

While there is some debate about which company actually started the natural finish craze that hit the crankbait market in the very late 70s and early 80s, there is little doubt which company made the most lifelike creations at the time. Thanks to advances in technology, manufacturers were able to take quality photographic images and apply them to the surfaces of their baits. Now, instead of painting on an image of a fish in a spray room, instead you would end up with a picture of a baitfish or a crawdad applied to your lure. [Read more…]

Skin Disease or Bait?

Rebel Ringworm CT ad from 1977.

Rebel Ringworm CT ad from 1977.

To anyone but a savvy bass angler, to say, “I got ring worms,” would be a conversation and possibly a relationship show stopper. But to a bass angler in the late 70s through the 80s, the comment may make you new friends or a target for a heist. The Rebel Ringworms were that big a sensation on the scene. In fact, when Rebel quit making the little ringed plastic jewels in the mid 80s, a run went on them and at some shops they were bringing in twice as much as their list price.

The first ringworm introduced in 1975 was a straight tailed bait that actually was credited for  Jim McKay’s sole Bassmaster win on Toledo Bend Reservoir in 1976 – which probably had something to do with its initial success. The second bait, the curl tail, was released in 1977 to take advantage of the momentum the earlier introduction had spawned and became an instant success too.

The concept was, “vibra-sonic sound, trapped air bubbles and lifelike feel and action.” I’m not sure about the sound but I know it trapped air and felt softer than other worms of the same diameter – more importantly it caught fish. [Read more…]

The Bass Aren’t the Only Ones That Eat Them

RebelThere are a couple of reasons we all buy bass lures. First because we want to catch fish and second, we have an addiction to buying them. I don’t know how many baits I’ve bought over the course of my life but I’m sure I don’t want to know that answer and I’m doubly sure that my insurance agent doesn’t either.

One thing that’s happened over my life is I’ve seen a lot of lure companies go by the wayside. Some of them just went out of business for whatever reason be it bad designs, not enough revenue to make the industry worth while or, as we’re going to talk about here, a bigger fish buys them out. [Read more…]

Old Boat Ads – 1973

1973 Ranger TR-4 Boat Ad. Where's Burt Reynolds?

1973 Ranger TR-4 Boat Ad. Where’s Burt Reynolds?

Okay, it’s been a while since we’ve done a Retro Boat ad piece here so I thought it would be good to pick up where we left off – 1973.

By 1973 bass boats and bass boat companies were coming out of every one-stop town in the U.S. In 1972, 11 manufacturers put ads in the top bass fishing magazines – 1973 would feature 15 boat manufacturers and I’m sure there were a number of other companies who hadn’t yet made the leap to advertise. [Read more…]

One of the Remaining Few

Norman Lures ad circa 1977.

Here’s a great old ad from 1977 featuring Norman Lures. Front and center is a young Jimmy Houston (wearing a hat!) after winning his first Angler of the Year Award in 1976. One of the funny things about the ad is Jimmy’s boat. Note the first generation Norman Lures “wrap.” Looks as if Jimmy took his boat to a kindergarten finger painting class and let the little buggers go at it.

The other anglers featured in the ad are Woo Daves (what a head of hair!), Gerry Kennedy and Roger Mhoon. Other than Daves, I’ve only heard of Mhoon as he used to fish the Bassmaster Trail. [Read more…]

The Birth of the Swimbait

“Lunker” Bill Murphy with a 14-04 he caught out of San Vicente Reservoir. Photo Western Bass Magazine Spring 1979 Issue.

There have been quite a few firsts that have come out of California with respect to bass techniques. No one can dispute that Flipping didn’t come from the Golden State and arguments can be made that a specific form of split-shotting and doodling were developed on the “left” coast. Although the drop-shot rig was brought over from Japan (via Connecticut some might say), it was the California anglers that made the technique famous when they began winning tour-level events with it. [Read more…]

Old Boat Ads – 1972

Arrow Glass Trophy Mark VI Ad 1972

Now we’re rolling. In the 1971 version of Old Boat Ads we featured eight boat companies and their bass boat ads. This was up from four companies displaying their wares from 1970 magazines. The manufacturers present in ’71 were Astroglass, Glastron, King Fisher (Master Molders), MonArk, Ouachita, Ranger, Rebel and Thunderbird.

In 1972, though, five more companies decided to participate in the Bass Boat Ad campaign, while a couple may have decided their money would be better spent in areas other than advertising. In any event, the ads from 1972 showed that the bass boat market was getting really competitive and boat companies were beginning to jockey for market share just by the number of ads placed and the fact they were showing multiple boat models in their ads.

Here are the ads I was able to come up with form the year 1972. I hope you enjoy this look back in time. [Read more…]